Deena (From Thereby Hangs A Tail)
We sat in the patio bar at the Dry Gulch Steakhouse and Saloon, Bernie on the end stool, me on the floor. The big summer heat – not just heat but pressure, like a heavy blanket is always weighing down on you – was over, but it was still plenty hot and the cool tiles felt good. Bernie pointed across the street with his chin. “What’s that?”
“What’s what?” said the bartender.
“That hole in the ground.”
“Condos,” the bartender said. “Ten stories? Fifteen maybe?”
Bernie has dark, prominent eyebrows with a language all their own. Sometimes, like now, they grew jagged and his whole face, normally such a nice sight, darkened. “And when the aquifer runs dry, what then?” he said.
“Aquifer?” said the bartender.
“Any idea of the current population of the Valley?” Bernie said.
“The whole valley?” said the bartender. “Gotta be up there.” Bernie gave him a long look, then ordered a double.
A waitress in a cowboy hat came by. “Is that Chet? Haven’t seen you in a while.” She knelt down, gave me a pat. “Still like steak tips?” Why would that ever change? “Hey, easy, boy.”
Bernie had a burger and another bourbon; steak tips and water for me. His face returned to normal. Whew. Bernie worried about the aquifer a lot and sometimes when he got going couldn’t stop. All our water came from the aquifer – I’d heard him say that over and over, although I’d never laid eyes on this aquifer, whatever it was. I didn’t get it at all: there was plenty of water in the Valley – how else to explain all that spraying on the golf courses, morning and evening, and those beautiful little rainbows the sprinklers made? We had water out the yingyang. I got up and pressed my head against Bernie’s leg. He did some light scratching in that space between my eyes, impossible for me to get to. Ah, bliss. I spotted a French fry under the stool next to Bernie’s and snapped it up.
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